Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attempt to win dismissal of a lawsuit brought by parents over STAAR testing is disappointing, but not really surprising. It’s part of Paxton’s pattern of opposing school kids, their parents and educators.
As a legislator in 2011, Paxton voted for $5.4 billion in school budget cuts. More recently, as attorney general, he defended in court the state’s inadequate school finance system, which the Texas Supreme Court recently upheld. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t bet money against the Supreme Court eventually throwing out the STAAR suit as well.
Educators, parents and students are continuing to feel the consequences of recent elections. In Paxton’s case, that’s the 2014 election, in which he was a poorly qualified candidate swept into office by heavy, straight-ticket Republican voting. Now, is a poorly qualified attorney general, continuing to under-cut public education.
Paxton also is under indictment and awaiting trial on securities fraud charges. Whatever happens to his criminal case, he needs to go away but isn’t in a big hurry to do so. For the record, TSTA supported attorney Sam Houston, Paxton’s opponent, in the 2014 general election because we knew Paxton was bad news and Houston valued the importance of public schools.
State Education Commissioner Mike Morath also is trying to get the STAAR lawsuit dismissed. He was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott, who also prefers testing to adequate school funding and was promoted to higher office by the same voters and on the same day that Paxton was.
Parents have a right to sue over bad policy decisions and to get angry when the Texas Supreme Court says it’s OK for state leaders to continue to shortchange their children’s classrooms. But the best way to protect against bad educational policy is on Election Day, and parents, as well as educators, have missed many recent opportunities.